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Just as I was settling into my day, I got a call from my mom. "Turn on your television. Your brother is not flying." My brother is an American Airlines pilot, at the time based out of Washington D.C. With family members in New York City and Washington D.C., it was to be a long, prayerful day and night.
 
As the 15 year anniversary of 9/11/01 approached, we paused to remember. We remember where we were the moment the unthinkable and unimaginable happened and how we felt as we began to process the information and images. We remember urgently checking on each one of our family members and friends and we remember how it felt to finally know they were safe. Or perhaps we received some very sad news, like so many of our fellow Americans. And we remember how excruciating that felt.

We remember how it felt to come together as one nation in the aftermath. We were unified in our grief. We were unified in our resolve to reach out and help those who were personally affected. We put all differences aside as we renewed our pledge of allegiance to the United States of America. We truly felt and acted as "one nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all." And we came to understand that American life, as we knew it, was over.  
 
And, somehow 15 years have passed. As we reflect upon the past years, we ask ourselves who we've become as a nation since 9/11/01. Who have we become as Individuals? As we reflect on these questions and so much more, the airwaves are full of programming in remembrance.
 
New York Says Thank You is one such Program. This foundation sends volunteers from New York City each year on or near the 9/11 Anniversary to help rebuild communities around the country affected by disasters. Inspired by a five year old boy, the volunteers commemorate the extraordinary love and generosity extended to New Yorkers by Americans from all across the United States in the days, weeks and months following 9/11. New York City fire fighters and family members of those who perished are among the volunteers who go out and help communities rebuild.

We cannot reflect on the past without remembering the extreme sacrifices made by the members of our military personnel and their families. The Wounded Warrior Project provides assistance to thousands of returning injured soldiers and their families through programs and services that meet the needs of injured service members.

The National 9/11 Memorial and Museum honors those lost in the attacks of September 11th while also recognizing those who survived and risked their lives to save others, and the compassion of all who provided support in the darkest of times. It is intended to serve as a catalyst for the future to foster understanding and peace in the larger world community.

Clearly, these organizations have many things in common. What stands out is that while they care very much about remembering 9/11/01, they also want us to remember 9/12/01, and how America came together for a time. Each organization is encouraging us to come together once again.
 
They are helping America to use one of our darkest, saddest experiences to remember our goodness and our greatness. They are challenging us to get up off our collective couch and unplug from the bad, hateful and sad news of the day. They are inspiring us to use whatever talents and resources we have to help those in need. They are not looking to the government; they are looking to "We the People."

Jeanne Gladden

Born to be in business, Jeanne Gladden is a business coach, consultant and educator.

 

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